This Valentines slip dress look is my favorite perhaps, of my Valentine’s outfits. As I’ve said so many times before, I’m a real lover of the 60s and 70s and this outfit makes me feel like a 70s rocker.
And since snakeskin print is having a moment this spring and summer, as well as with the staying trend of socks peaking out of shoes, this outfit is a fun one for playing with some popular styles.
I loved this dress that I got from January’s Stitch Fix shipment, and I couldn’t wait to sport it. Once I slipped it on for this shoot, however I felt a bit awkward. It is a touch “skimpy” as my mom would say, and this made me suddenly feel “impure.”
And see, “purity” is a word that automatically brings up guilt and shame in me. Being raised in a religious environment there was such an emphasis on purity and such a focus on insuring it remain in the young. But this focus and emphasis so commonly took the form of legalism that this “purity” thing began to feel like a prison to me. It was my taskmaster that rapped my knuckles any time I stepped out of bounds. But even so, like a victim of Stockholm syndrome, I sought to grow closer to it. As close as possible so as to avoid its always present punishment of shame.
I tried to fashion myself into the poster child of purity. I was put on pedestals as such, and I shared testimonies in front of crowds of others as to how I had become so successful at it. It was a weird, stifling world and yet it was all I knew. You can’t see what you’re truly looking at when you’re standing two inches from it.
By the time I was a grown woman the deep psychological effects of such a life were starting to take their toll. I needed help. I felt like these boundaries and rules that were required for “being pure” were impossible to stay within, and many times even unnatural for being human.
And this line of thinking that was building inside of me terrified me and confused me. Purity was supposed to result in peace, but somehow, even when I followed the rules and stayed within purity’s bounds I never felt anything that resembled peace.
I couldn’t keep up, and I was starting to not want to anymore. A simple crush, a date, a kiss were seemingly dirtying things to one’s purity, so you can imagine how intensely difficult this push and pull became when I started dating my now husband, Josiah.
He hadn’t been the first guy I had dated sure, but he was the first true love. All I wanted to do was hold hands with him, kiss him until my lips were chapped and dress as sexy as possible just because I knew it drove him crazy. It was puppy love and real love and it was fun and wonderful. And yet I couldn’t enjoy it for what it was because every time I enjoyed being a human woman in love I would feel the pang of guilt and loss to my own pure white innocence that had been so fiercely guarded by my elders.
Fast forward to now. I’ve put many years in between me and that time in my life. I ran away from it all as soon as I could. With pain I ran, with guilt I ran, and yet I never looked over my shoulder again. It was useless for me. I had realized a long time ago I would never be able to attain that kind of “purity” and I never wanted to try again.
Yet now looking back I can see it wasn’t actually purity that was my taskmaster, it wasn’t purity that was breaking me down from the inside out. It wasn’t purity that was judging me or making me feel shame or guilt. Instead it was fear. Fear that was projected on me by my leaders and elders because they didn’t want me to experience their own old mistakes. And fear that birthed inside of me of a life ruined outside of perfection.
I think a lot of the dark side of religion is about that — fear. Fear of being the worst version of yourself, fear that your children will become the worst version of yourself. Fear that you aren’t worthy of love, so you try become so, make sure you are by good works. Fear that you will go to hell because of all the secret sins of your life.
Really, religions are followed by humans, churches are filled with humans. It’s humans that preach from the pulpit and humans that teach bible studies. And humanity is such a broken race. We are beautiful and messy, brave and cowardly, incredible and horrifying, woeful and lovely. I love humanity, but humanity can and has and will do a lot of harm along with the good, sadly.
And as far as actual purity goes? I think it is so greatly mistaken. It is a word that is mocked, hated, avoided, laughed at. But I think that is just a result of how that word makes people feel. Much how I saw myself for years, people see themselves also as dirty, damaged goods. And the word purity can make us all think of what we are not.
But maybe purity is less something to be attained or owned, and more something that exists in and of itself. Maybe it is something that can be found alighting upon shoulder to shoulder. Purity can be found in a baby’s laugh, in a puppy’s play, in flowers growing alone in a field, in a blue sky, in first found love, in old love renewed, in a child’s wonder. Purity inspires us, it moves us. It keeps us aching for more of it, inspires us to seek it out more, and to protect it when we find it. Purity is a beauitful thing.
Here’s to purity — What a gift and what a phenomenon it is to behold in this crazy world.
Love to you,
-Snakeskin Slip Dress (via Stitch Fix) — Lavender Brown
-Faux Fur Jacket (here) — Leith
-Boots (here) — Dr. Martens